Exercise and Your Hormones

I've been passionate about exercise my whole life. From doing Billy Blanks' Tae Bo videos in my basement as a kid, to becoming a personal trainer during college, to getting my Master's in Kinesiology, to now being an Exercise Physiologist (among many other things).


I've always felt in my body, and known on a psychological level, the power of movement.


Routine physical activity has incredible effects on our hormones and endocrine system. Dopamine decreases stress and depression. Serotonin affects mood, social behavior, appetite, memory, sexual function and sleep. Estrogen becomes balanced in the body. For men, it results in a boost in testosterone.

8 Benefits of Exercise Related to Your Hormone Functions

In our Facebook Live on hormone changes as we age, Physical Therapist, Melissa Nassaney and I couldn't have sang the praises of exercise for hormone balance any louder if we tried.

  1. Lowers stress levels.

  2. Improves insulin sensitivity.

  3. Improves thyroid levels.

  4. Lowers risk of obesity.

  5. Lower excess estrogen levels, which can reduce the risk of breast cancer.

  6. Stimulates production of sex hormones like testosterone which can decrease fat mass & increase muscle mass.

  7. Improves symptoms from menstrual cycle.

  8. Improves menopausal symptoms.


Beginning an Exercise Routine

Here are a few pointers to anyone starting or RE-starting an exercise regimen.

  • Start small, even if you've been an avid exerciser in the past - just 10-30 minutes of movement 3-5 days per week is a great start.

  • Get in a combo of cardio, strength training, and flexibility.

  • Consistency is key.

  • Do things you enjoy, you're more likely to stick to it if you're not dreading it. Plus, there are SO many options and resources out there. There is something for everyone!

  • Get support - this can be a friend, join a Facebook group, or work with a professional.

  • Eat after a workout. Have some protein if you did light strength training. It is good for the body to have a snack or small meal after workout.

  • Make time for rest and recovery - if you need a day off from your workouts, take it!

Cardiovascular/Aerobic Exercise

  • Work your way up to 150 minutes per week of low to moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise, or a combination of the two. Once you've achieved that, go for 300/150 minutes, respectively.

  • If you're just starting out, begin with just 10 minutes bouts, maybe even interspersed throughout the day.

  • Types of cardio can include: walking, running, cycling, swimming/water aerobics, elliptical, dance/zumba, rowing, kayaking, fast-paced yoga, etc.

  • Basically, anything that uses large muscle groups repetitively and gets your heart pumping and breath rate increased.

Muscular Strength & Endurance

  • You want to train your muscles 2-3 times per week, taking time in between to rest (do not work the same muscles two days in a row).

  • Include all major muscle groups - no spot-reducing!

  • Compound exercises (those that use multiple muscle groups) are a great bang for your buck in terms of time-savers.

  • Ladies, I cannot emphasize this enough: you will NOT get big and bulky if you lift weights. I repeat, you - will - not - get - bulky.

  • Also include exercises that challenge your balance and agility.

  • Types of strength training include: free weights, body weight exercise, kettle-bells, resistance bands, Pilates, some types of yoga, etc.

  • We include everything you need in our virtual Functional Fitness classes!

Flexibility

  • Aim to incorporate some sort of stretching 5-7 days per week.

  • Whether you're a couch potato or an athlete, I guarantee your body will thank you.

  • Stretch to the point of tension or mild discomfort, but NOT pain! Stretching gets a bad wrap because of the "no pain, no gain" mentality.

  • Stretching doesn't have to mean a yoga class. This is why a lot of people are drawn to our Integrative Stretching classes!


Recognizing Burnout

If you're an avid exerciser, or you just started and go too hard to quick, you might experience chronic fatigue (which is a symptom of hormone imbalance), irregular periods, thyroid issues, unexplained weight gain, or other signs of a hormone imbalance, take that as a sign from your body to back it off.


Does this mean it was caused by exercise? Absolutely not, but exercise does put physical stress on the body, and if your body needs to recover, that means you slow down and listen. Remember anything excessive is bad and will adversely affect metabolism.

Kick your workout time back from an hour or 45 min, to 20-30 min. If necessary, take a 1-month break to let your body recover from the excessive stress. This will help to readjust naturally your cortisol levels.



Make sure you're on our weekly email list and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay plugged in to all of the tips and info we'll be bringing you to help balance your hormones!


If you need help getting started, that's what we're here for! We are taking 15-minute consultations. Click here to book - select the drop-down that says "All Staff" to select who you'd like to schedule with.


Drop your insights and comments below. Love and light, friends!

©2019 by Integrative Wellness RI.